(Michael on Sunday, 02.18, in an impromptu moment from the pulpit, challenged the congregation — as part of their Lenten observance — to be present for all 6 of the sermons in the series. He then went on and said, he’d take all those who heard all 6 sermons to dinner after Easter. Make sure you mark your attendance in the red pew pads, we know as Friendship Pads.)
Traditionally, we talk about the United Church of Christ having “congregational polity,” a form of church government that emphasized autonomy. The idea is that instead of having a Bishop or any human authority that can tell us how to worship and believe, the body of the church — congregations, associations, conferences, the General Synod — is free and called to discerning God’s will for itself. Wherever two or three are gathered, there Jesus is too. So if the people are looking towards Jesus, there’s no greater authority to look for.
A more recent understanding has suggested that the UCC celebrates “covenantal polity.” Yes, we are free and autonomous units, but our liberty doesn’t, or shouldn’t, pull us out of relationship with one another. The different settings of the church have a covenantal responsibility to be there for each other, to support one another, to challenge one another, to bless one another. Here the emphasis is on how, though different parts, we are still one body that functions best when it works together for one purpose.
Our reading’s for this year’s Lectionary cycle through Lent, call us to consider Covenant, and what it means for us as believers and as the church. Please join us for the 6 Sundays of Lent, as we walk together through a sermon series on the meanings of Covenant. Maybe by the end of it, you will have a better understanding of your personal Covenant with God for the living of these days?
02.18 Lent 1: Genesis 9:8-17 and 1 Peter 3:18-22 — Noah’s Covenant with God
02.25 Lent 2: Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16 and Romans 4:13-25 — Abraham’s Covenant with God
03.04 Lent 3: Exodus 20:1-17 and I Cor. 1:18-25 — The Ten Commandments (an apparently one-sided covenant) (communion)
03.11 Lent 4: Numbers 21:4-9 and Ephesians 2:1-10 — The Covenant in Christ
03.18 Lent 5: Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Hebrews 5:5-10 — A Covenant of the Heart
03.25 Palm Sunday: Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29 and John 12:12-16 — A Covenant of Suffering